5 Tips to Keep Weight Gain OFF Your Thanksgiving Menu

Giving Thanks Without Gaining Weight

This is the time to gather with family and friends, give thanks, and feast, feast, feast! Still, all that feasting can add up (particularly around your waistline). It’s important for people with disabilities and their loved ones to both eat and stay healthy. That’s why I’d like to share with you some quick tips to help you keep this year’s holiday from spoiling a healthy diet.

Tip 1: How About DON’T Bring Your Appetite?

In anticipation of the big spread, do not arrive to Thanksgiving dinner hungry. Enjoy a healthy snack to hold off hunger, prevent bingeing, and keep your energy level high. When your stomach starts to grumble reach for a low calorie piece of fruit or veggie snack to satisfy hunger and provide your body with nutrients and hydration.

Tip 2: Set Out Pre-dinner Healthy Snacks

Everyone likes to graze on tasty nibbles before they get to the main course. This year set out some healthy snacks to keep you sated

-Raw veggies, such as celery, carrots, and broccoliveggies, thanksgiving

-Fresh fruit- eat an apple or an orange when mid-morning hunger sets in

-Low fat pretzels or fresh, butter free popcorn

-Low fat yogurt with fresh fruit or granola

-Low fat fruit shakes with lean protein

BONUS TIP: Remember, water has no calories and keeps you hydrated and feeling full.

Tip 3: Keep It Lean

A good rule for filling up your plate  is to load up on  grilled or roasted vegetables like beets, carrots, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and green beans. Take smaller portions of mashed potatoes and stuffing and go light on the gravy (or choose no gravy at all). Turkey is a healthy choice, especially if you eat it without the skin.

Eat some fresh fruit for dessert as your first choice and have a smaller portion of the sweets if you cannot avoid the temptation of your Nana’s co0kies!

Tip 4: Balancing Calories

Depending on age, weight and gender, and levels of physical activity, most people need between 1,600 and 2,800 calories daily. (The average active adult requirement is 2,000 calories).  If you consume more calories than your body needs, you gain weight.

With appetizers, the main course, and desserts your Thanksgiving dinner will likely exceed your daily requirement of calories. There is good news though – you can enjoy your feast and burn off those extra calories by getting lots of exercise  before and after Thanksgiving. A nice walk after Thanksgiving dinner can help with your digestion and is a good social activity for you and your family to burn off some extra calories. The next time you hit the gym, spend a little time to do some extra repetitions in your weight lifting routine.  Just get out there and do a little bit more of whatever physical activity you enjoy the best.

Tip 5: Change the Focus!

thanksgiving gamesSometimes we eat because we’re bored. Other times it’s because we focus too much on the food in front of us. This holiday, take the time to focus on your family. Talk to a family member you aren’t particularly close to and get to know about what’s new in their lives. You can break out a board game or discuss upcoming plans for New Year’s. If there are children about, join them in a game of pretend.  The more you keep your mind occupied elsewhere, the less likely you are to chow down on unnecessary appetizers and sweets.

This may be my favorite tip, because getting together with family and being thankful for their love is what this holiday is all about. Happy holidays!

About The Author:

Laura O’Reilly, R.N., MSM, CPT


Laura O’Reilly is a Registered Nurse, Personal Fitness Trainer, Business Executive, Public Speaker, and Author. With a Masters Degree in Management with a focus on Public Health & Public Policy and a B.A. in Communications, her diverse background and experiences give her insight and expertise across a broad range of subjects.

O’Reilly is a consultant and advisor for organizations and corporations providing services that include, but are not limited to, organizational research, health education program design, editorial and written content, advocacy, and strategies for program design and implementation; and much more.

Laura launched the Health and Wellness Department at Easterseals New Jersey, a social services agency that provides programs and services for individuals with disabilities and special needs. She created health education and exercise programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities and serious mental illness.  Be Well! & Thrive, a program that she conceived and developed, is the first Accredited Inclusive Exercise Instructor Certificate Program in the U.S. by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. She was the New Jersey Inclusive Health Coalition leader for the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability.

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